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It is up to all of us to make or break the Federal System.




It is up to all of us to make or break the Federal System.


Samuel Estefanous 12-13-17


Much as I am ill disposed towards global TV spin doctors, motivational speakers and televangelists, I always tend to get some good stuff to mull over from their emotionally charged rollercoasters. Here is Oprah Winfrey’s advice to those who are too fainthearted to suffer pain and take lessons: FOR AN OPEN WOUND TO HEAL, YOU NEED TO LIVE AND FEEL THE PAIN.  I know she didn’t exactly put it like that but that was the gist of her advice.

We have to ask ourselves, did we ever expect to see our Federal System to functions without a hitch or a hiccup?  We have got to count our blessings as well. Remember the United States and Nigeria fought bitter bloody civil wars to keep the Federal System in one piece, they are still battling the presumed demons of Federalism, and India’s Federalism has always been fragile.

Take heart, my fellow Ethiopians, only let us cut our losses and move on.

1-Our long National Nightmare is over

Hate him or like him, David Letterman is a quintessential broadcasting phenomenon. His satire bites, his interview is grilling, his witticism never fails to drop jaws and by God he does all these with good taste, a lingering superior punch line and in a light hearted manner. No wonder hundreds of rookie ‘hosts’ all over the world are aping him to uncomfortably minutiae detail.  

The way he makes Presidents lose their dignified edge makes you wonder who is in charge here yet when he declared he would be retiring, all living United States Presidents except perhaps for Jimmy Carter lined up to bid him farewell repeating the captioned-  My Fellow Americans, Our long National Nightmare is over!  

All was all done in a warm spirit of missing the living legend of late night shows.

What they were implying was…yes, you are a pain in the neck, yes you make us look stupid, yes, we would rather walk any other gauntlets combined than show up to be skinned alive on your show but we needed you and thank you.

Fellas, likewise, our Federalism need to be challenged, grilled at every turn and even could be made to look totally collapsing. It is inevitable. Just don’t freak out every time a venture or two busts at the seams.

2-Breaking a Horse

      How do you tame a wild horse? By breaking it! Our Federalism is young and wild. It needs to be tamed. You may find this rather a joke in bad taste but it is through conflicts like the ones that gathered force in North Gonder, Tsegede, Oromiya NRS and Ethio-SomaliNRS that our Federalism is going to be broken for good use.

Nay Sayers and doomsday heralding hobbos may beat the drum and immature government officials may give the orders to round up ‘the agitators’ but in the meanwhile the Federal System is going through its natural course and phase of development. If you really want to know the truth, truly functioning Constitutions are in a perpetual state of amendments like that the US one.

In the year 1995 the Federal System was a hairy, clumsy raw hide with a funny smell hanging about it. It needed to be cleaned, shaved, tanned, broken and made to acquire a stretching quality that makes it capable of accommodating and solving any problem.   

3-Provoking Thought and Cementing the Cracking Edges

One of the major Achill’s hills of Ethiopian Federalism has been the acute dearth of academic treatises and judicial interpretive supplements that naturally lend the skeletal system its tendons and flesh.

The recent ‘Conflicts’ have made a number of scholars to reach for their dusty Quill and share thoughts, to hit prime time Radio and TV News hours and be featured on front pages of popular weeklies with all kinds of headlines.

It has forced some senior government officials to do some kind of soul searching if they have had a viable, cohesive and legitimate understanding of the working experience of the Federal System.

The one I liked most was the one time notorious, almost hilarious bickering between Addisu Arega of the ONRS and his Ethio-SomaliNRS counterpart, particularly, the part where Arega dwelled on, relative to the nomenclature of the regional state. Our Regional State, he had declared solemnly, is the home of every single Ethiopian and to this effect the Constitution has given it a fitting nomenclature as the Oromia National Regional State and stand corrected, Sir, that it isn’t called Oromia Regional State.

That is some mutual peer lesson in a major Constitutional Study.

Some reflections may sound bitter, bleak and devoid of any measure of exit strategy like that of Gebru Asrat or some of them might be  intellectual grounded if only suffering from a degree of anachronism like that of Abebe T/Haymanot. Again a good number of them may still have a good natured naïve optimistic vibe to them but all of them, irrespective of orientation, serve fundamental purposes in making the FDRE Constitution a working supreme law of the land.

4-To Govern isn’t to Prove loyalty to the incumbent.

Recently, Ato Gebru Asrat voiced valid threats to the Constitutional order, one being the impassioned if reckless declarations of loyalty of top gun government officials to the people of their respective “Regions” at the expense of others.

That is rather juvenile and shallow. It reminds me the fateful speech the late Slobodan Milosevic delivered at a rally in Kosovo some twenty odd years ago. You see unwittingly he had made the case for Western war mongers and stubborn “dotards” who had a field day so that they could have the free license to carpet bomb Serbia; they did, too, and left an open oozing wound in our hearts in the process.

(Incidentally, have you had the chance to listen to Mme Milosevic’s interview with Sebastian, the Terrible? It is available on YouTube. My God, the way she made him look like a halfwit!)

EPRDF officials have got one major flaw they all share across the board. They assume their accountability is to the Front and not the people of Ethiopia. According to their flawed reasoning EPRDF is accountable to the people and in due course they are accountable to the Front. And I am saying, you all are accountable to ALL OF US, more so to those who aren’t EPRDFites.

I am not that a big fan of Western Democracy but the ‘acceptance speeches’ of the winners never cease to amaze me. Invariably the Speeches are addressed to those sections of the Society who didn’t vote for the winning candidate. They thank their supporters and promise to serve and try to win the trust of those who have voted against them.

It is like the teachings of the Gospel.

6-Spare us the Dr. Frankenstein Syndrome

The children of the FDRE Constitution are unlike any other generation. Some of them prefer English to communicate with their own fellow Ethiopians unable to speak a common language, visibly counter to the preamble and the opening paragraph of the Constitution.  They are open targets and easy victims of the apocalyptical Information flood; they need to be guided and instructed with the utmost care lest they end up being Dr. Frankenstein monsters.

5- Experimenting on the Living Flesh of Ethiopia

The Russian Federation chose to keep the centennial of the ‘Great October Socialist Revolution’ a low key event to the chagrin and great displeasure of the nostalgic old guards of the ‘Soviet Empire’ who had the honor to count V.V.Putin among their ranks only a couple of years ago. Putin is too maverick a statesman to gamble his political future in such divisive stake as the October Revolution that claimed the lives of millions of Russians. I wouldn’t blame him yet he never ceases to amaze me as he is said to truly believe the collapse of the Soviet Union would be remembered as the greatest strategic blunder of the 20th century.

You know what else marvels me relative to the October Revolution? The brutal honesty of Maksim Gorky and his dare devilish affront to Lenin and Trotsky. Few folks seem to know that he was deported from Soviet Russia and used to live as an émigré somewhere in Italy. Contrary to popular perception he hated Lenin with vengeance.

He had famously characterized the latter as a pioneering social scientist who did his lab experiments “…on the living flesh of Russia.’ 

 Lenin isn’t alone in practicing applied science on the living flesh. He had actually inspired a number of iconic revolutionaries throughout the 20thC. We, too, have had more than our fair share of his devoted disciples of all color and inclinations. One has only to review “the shakers and movers” of Ethiopian politics in the past five decades…from AESM to EPRP, from DERGUE to EPRDF, from OLF to May 007…   

6-‘Fanatically Messianic not accommodative and Democratic’   

Almost all Ethiopian political groups come across as if they are on one big messianic mission to save the Nation from the hooks of Lucifer and seem oblivious to the simple fact that from the opposite perspective they are viewed as devil incarnates themselves. They hunted each other like a bunch of starving blood hounds and what is more want to be glorified as heroes of sorts. The heart breaking tragedy we are witnessing now is the spillover effect of the fanaticism of the yesteryears.

7- A New Era is Dawning   

A quarter of a Century is a generation marker. My fellow Ethiopians, Generation Xs  are increasingly edging out the “Ya twuld” , and  the Millennials are coming of age all to take over the leadership of the Nation in all aspects of life. These are children of the FDRE Constitution and they are demanding-yield the way. Of course it is the raw adrenaline speaking yet…

What I am trying to say is let us work in tandem and in good faith, let us lead by example. I am sorry to quote the late Premier again but I gotta do-don’t padlock the doors and seal up the windows; just keep them open, ‘cos they are gonna be broken any way even if you do.


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